China: Master Stock
"Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No-Waste Methods"
“In China, there exists the legend of stocks that have survived for hundreds of years, passed down through generations and nurtured as you would a bread culture. Called a master stock, this compound base begins with an aromatic broth—commonly spiced with soy sauce, rice wine, star anise, cassia bark, and more—and is used to poach or braise meats. The stock that results from this process is chilled or frozen for reuse, intended to develop a complexity of flavor with each subsequent simmer. In Southern China, the Cantonese term lou mei refers to any dish that is made by simmering meat, offal, tofu, or kelp in a master stock.”–Rachael Mamane in her 2018 Beard Award–nominated Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No-Waste Methods.
- 2 quarts Basic Chicken stock or Basic Vegetable Stock
- 3/4 tamari or light soy sauce
- 3/4 cup Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 cup palm sugar or light brown sugar
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3 slices galangal or ginger
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 2 dried chiles
- 3 whole pods star anise
- 2 sticks cinnamon, preferably Ceylon
- 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
Place all the ingredients in a stockpot. Turn the heat to medium-high, and slowly heat the liquid. When the liquid starts to ripple, before it breaks into a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer to infuse the spices, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and rest the stock on the stove, about 15 minutes. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a container large enough to hold the liquid contents of the pot. Strain, cover, chill, and reserve the stock, until ready to use.
Use the stock as a braising liquid for meat. After each use, strain the stock and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Recipe adapted from Rachael Mamane's book Mastering Stocks and Broths: A Comprehensive Culinary Approach Using Traditional Techniques and No-Waste Methods (Chelsea Green, 2017) and are printed with permission from the publisher.